Linda's Orchard

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Month: August, 2014

A Family Affair

99 Newbury Street

99 Newbury Street

Old Burying Ground, Cambridge MA

Old Burying Ground, Cambridge

My initial introduction into the world of genealogy began in a way familiar to many young parents; the kids each had to complete a family tree for school and I didn’t know the names all my great grandparents. The children are now grown, my interest in family history is at an all time high, and my kids keep moving to great places for research.

The first big move was to upstate New York. My daughter decided to attend Syracuse University and I soon discovered a set of previously unknown second great grandparents who lived and died there. That set off four years of research trips covering courthouses, libraries, cemeteries and historical societies in ten different counties. After graduation, said daughter moved to Washington D.C., where I probably spent more time at Archives I and II than I actually spent with her; she was, after all, working during the day.

And then my son moved to Boston. Of course I had to visit. Last week, while he was otherwise occupied, I had some time to spare. What’s a genealogist to do? Head to NEHGS, of course. I’ve been a member for a few years, but have always researched their materials from a distance. With no laptop, no research plan, just a pencil and pad of paper, I arrived. The weather was unseasonably pleasant, the landscaping was in full bloom, and I entered through gorgeous double doors into a spectacular wood interior. Immediately I went to the 7th floor to look at the books and discovered David Allen Lambert sitting at the front desk assisting patrons. My time was limited so I hurriedly perused the stacks, took some notes on a handful of families, and proceeded to the 4th floor for a quick peek at the microfilm holdings. Sitting at that desk was Rhonda McClure. By this time I was a bit star struck and also out of time.

Lucky for me this was just the beginning. On 13 September 2014, NEHGS will be in Berkeley for an all day event in partnership with the California Genealogical Society. Chris Child and Alice Kane will present four different lectures, followed by dinner at the Hotel Shattuck. And in November, the California Genealogical Society will host a research tour back in Boston. Looks like I get to spend more time in New England visiting my son.

I can hardly wait to find out where the kids will move next.

 

Isla de los Angeles

 

California Genealogical Society Members: Kay Speaks, Grant Din, Linda Okazaki

California Genealogical Society Members:                                                                Kay Speaks, Grant Din, and Linda Okazaki

 

Angel Island is a beautiful place for a picnic, a picture perfect location for tourists and locals alike. But the real beauty lies in its history. I am a fourth generation San Franciscan who grew up in Marin County, but it wasn’t until I was an adult with children of my own that I understood my personal connection to this gem.

The largest island located in the midst of San Francisco Bay, Angel Island has a long and rich history. Occupied first by Coastal Miwok Indians, it was visited and named by Spanish explorers in the 1700’s. Later, there was a cattle ranch. Eventually the U.S. federal government took hold of the island. An army base operated there during the civil war. A quarantine station opened in 1891, and from 1910 to 1940, the government operated an immigration station. Though most immigrants were Chinese, individuals came from all over the world, including approximately 85,000 Japanese. POW’s were detained on the island during World War II, among them, hundreds of Japanese immigrants from Hawaii and the mainland who were declared Enemy Aliens. [i]

Over the past several decades, Angel Island became better known a place for recreation. Fortunately, numerous individuals have worked tirelessly to preserve the historical site. The Immigration Station Barracks now serve as a museum. The former Immigration Station Hospital is currently being renovated.

On July 19, 2014, the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation hosted a Family Reunion Day. Led by AIISF Community Relations Director Grant Din, speakers presented information about Chinese, Japanese and Russian immigrants, as well as employees who lived and worked there. This was particularly personal for me. My English immigrant great grandfather worked as a night watchman in the Quarantine Station for 11 years, during which time many of my husband’s Japanese family members were “processed” through the Immigration Station. My children’s history is two sided; speaking about both sides of their ancestry at this event was truly a privilege.

For additional information regarding the preservation of this historical site, please visit AIISF.org.

The Nichi Bei Foundation will host a Japanese American pilgrimage to the island on October 4, 2014. Please visit NichiBei.org later this summer for details.


[i]Erika Lee and Judy Yung, Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 9-27.